Revisiting the Kinkless Desktop

“How do you keep your desktop so clean?!”

I’m asked this almost every time someone new sees my computer. My desktop has no icons on it, and I like it that way. Old-school fans of 43 Folders might remember the Kinkless Desktop, a 5-article series by Ethan Schoonover from 2007 (with videos!) that explained how to clean your desktop off and ensure it stays pristine. It relied heavily on automation via a tool called Hazel and served as my introduction to automation on the Mac. I implemented the Kinkless Desktop almost 10 years ago, and I’ve stuck with it (with a few modifications) ever since.

Sadly, the site is offline now. Internet Archive to the rescue! Here’s the series. Go read/watch it. I’ll wait.

And here’s what I’ve changed:

  • I moved Archive, Inbox and Outbox to the dock (along with the Downloads folder) and removed the icons from my desktop entirely.
  • I never really used the Pending folder, so I ditched it.
  • I replaced the Archive folder with a link to my Dropbox folder. Everything lives in there.
  • Inbox and Outbox now live in my Dropbox as well just to ensure everything gets stored in the cloud.
  • I’ve gotten in the habit of filing things away where they belong immediately, so I don’t use the Inbox as much as I used to.
  • I haven’t found any fancy icons that match El Capitan with which to customize my folders, so the folders look super-boring.

I still use all of the Hazel rules, which are fantastic. You can download a copy of the originals here.

I’ve also adapted my use of iOS to work with the Inbox folder. A Drafts action called Dropbox Inbox lets me send the current draft to a Markdown file in my Inbox so I can process it later.

If I’m taking a note about something in Drafts that needs to end up back on my Mac, two taps will send it there. I process my Inbox folder once a day as part of my daily review.

Also worth noting is that Hazel was just updated to version 4.0. It’s $32 and worth purchasing. If you want to go beyond just keeping your desktop tidy, have a look at David Sparks’ new Hazel Field Guide ($20), a video walk-through that’ll take you from novice to power user in 2.5 hours.